What’s New in Travel for 2019
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January 28, 2019 / By Shyla Esko & Daniel Bare

Every year, there are trends that impact travelers going abroad. Some makes things easier, while others cause challenges. On our recent seven-week trip through Asia we took notes on what was going on in travel, what affected us, as well as what other travelers told us. Here are the top seven trends we discovered.

#1 – Conscious Travel
The website Booking.com has labeled 2019 “the year of the conscious traveler”, since in a survey they conducted, nearly half the travelers said they factor in social issues when choosing a destination. What are travelers looking at? They are considering everything from human rights, local working conditions, environmental issues, and if gay marriage is legal when choosing where to travel. This trend is especially true with millennial’s.

And for the first time this year, I heard countries being described as “STATEMENT” travel destinations. Travelers are choosing to go places where they think it will make a Statement such as Puerto Rico, Mexico or Cuba.

#2 – DNA Travel
Not everyone is making a political statement with where they go. Instead they are basing their travel decisions on new found heritage reports after DNA tests. According to Time magazine, as of October 2018, 7 million Americans have had a DNA test.

Some people thought their heritage was purely one thing, are suddenly finding they are a blend of nationalities, or sometimes a different nationality completely. With this information comes curiosity. People want to see where they come from. And are taking trips to discover their new “homelands.”

According to the travel guidebook company Lonely Planet, “The recent rise in home DNA kits has spurred on explorers to delve into their cultural heritage, planning trips around the movements of their ancestors before them.” I know in my travels it was important for me to visit The Netherlands, which DNA testing has shown is my predominant heritage.

One of our most popular travel classes is on Ireland. Every time we teach it, there are people going to the Emerald Isle to research their ancestry. If you have Irish blood, or are going to this amazing country for any other reason, check out our class Ireland for Travelers: Essential Tips & Tools.

#3 – Chinese Solo Travelers
Last year, we noted the trend that there are more Chinese than ever traveling the world. In fact, according to HospitalityNet, Chinese tourists account for 21% of world-wide travel spending. That is almost twice the amount of 2nd place USA. And while it used to be that Chinese tourists went mainly on organized tours, last year 60% traveled solo (1).

We definitely encountered more solo Chinese travelers on this trip than ever before. One Chinese solo traveler we spoke to, Sara, told us that she and her friends love to travel. She also informed us that her generation (late 20s) started learning English in Middle School, but now kids are being taught English starting in the first year (kindergarten) of school. She felt this was important since in her words “English is the world common language. So by speaking English, she felt comfortable traveling on her own.

Will the number of Chinese travelers continue to increase? We believe so. According to HospitalityNet, currently only 6% of Chinese citizens own passports, but that is expected to increase to 14% in the coming years (1).

#4 – Every Room for Rent
In finding accommodation for our most recent trip, it felt like everyone around the world has a room for rent. Both Agoda.com and Booking.com now have a categories for rooms and/or private homes for rent. The listings are similar to AirBnB. And, are some incredible and unique deals.

However, with so many people jumping on the bandwagon, there is sure to be issues. We have heard from numerous travelers in the last six months that had AirBnB hosts cancel on them at the last minute. Some had booked months in advance and were left scrambling to find a place to stay days before their trip.

With Air BnB, there are financial penalties for hosts that cancel at the last minute. And, we have been told by a host, that if a host cancels, they lose Super Host status for a year. Still, that was little comfort to the traveler we talked to that went to Sydney Australia, and found out that she did not have a place to stay, when she reached the home she had rented, and the entry code did not work and could not contact the owner.

I don’t know how Agoda and other platforms are going to deal with this influx of private listings. On the surface this seems like a great thing for travelers. However, we advise caution. Read reviews carefully. Don’t stay with anyone that does not have at least 10 great reviews. Check for any prior cancellations. And, in the case of AirBnB, stay with Super Hosts when possible.

We discuss the additional smart ways to use AirBnB in our Secrets to International Travel on a Budget class.

#5 – Influx of Airlines
For our next trend, here is a pop quiz. Do you know where the following airlines fly?

  • Wizz Air?

  • SpiceJet?

  • Mango?

  • Vueling?

  • Swoop?

Answers: Wizz Air is Hungarian based with 60 destinations in Europe. SpiceJet is based in India. Mango is the low-cost subsidiary of South African Airways and is based in Johannesburg. Vueling is from Spain. Swoop is based in Calgary and flies mostly across Canada, but also to sunny States such as Florida and Arizona.

The bigger question than where these airlines fly, is: should you use them. Accidents happen, so there is no guarantee, but we recommend doing a bit of due diligence by researching the safety of an airline. This is one of the top tips from our book – The Before You Go Abroad Handbook. The place we go to find out about an airline is the website AirlineRatings.com.

Wizz Air, Mango, and Vueling all get 7 out of 7 for Safety but either 2 ½ or 3 ½ out of 5 for product. You have to decide if you are willing to go with safe but perhaps uncomfortable, for a really great price. I will for short flights, but may not for long distances. Swoop is too new to have its own rating as it just started summer 2018. It’s parent company WestJet gets 7 out of 7 for Safety. SpiceJet is getting a rather scary 3 out of 7 for safety. So even though they got the best product rating with 4 out of 5 stars. Safety is most important to me so I will fly with someone else.

#6 – One-up Adventure Travel
Not interested in checking to see if an airline you are flying on is safe? That may be because you have a high tolerance for excitement. And that is the next trend: ultra-extreme adventure travel that has come from everyone trying to “one up each other.”

What am I talking about? Let’s use bungee jumping as an example. When it first came out, jumping from a normal height bridge was enough. Then they added being dunked into the river when you jumped. Then they had to find higher bridges. When bridges weren’t high enough, they moved to buildings. Then cranes over buildings. And so on.

Today, there are extreme bungee jumps. Such as, in Macau China, where you will find the world’s highest bungee at 764 feet. Or Switzerland where you can bungee off a dam, just like James Bond did in Goldeneye. This over 700-foot-high “double oh seven” bungee is labeled the ultimate adrenaline rush.

I jumped from the original bungy bridge in New Zealand. Which in comparison is a puny 140 feet. But believe me, that was adventure enough.

Adventure and even extreme adventure are no longer good enough. Going “one up”, the 700-foot-high bungee in Switzerland made itself ultra-extreme adventure, by being the first bungee jumping site that you can do at night. Not to be out done, Macau now does night jumps too.

I do like to do adventurous things when traveling. So, I was thrilled when in the Philippines I saw a new activity – bike riding on water! Honest. You bike down a river on pontoons. It was fun. But in the in-flight magazine as we left the Philippines, I discovered that on a different island, they are taking bike riding to ultra-extreme. There you can bike ride nearly 100 feet in the air on a tight wire.

In my book there is extreme adventure, and then there is CRAZY. Still with so many people trying to out do the competition and attract the adrenaline junkie’s dollar, expect this trend of making every possible activity ultra-extreme to continue around the world.

#7 – Increase of Travel Technology
This trend isn’t new but every year it seems to become more important. That is the combination of travel and technology. An increasing number of travel related business are expecting people to have access to technology when traveling. Especially smartphone apps.

In Europe it is becoming more common that Hotels want travelers to WhatsApp them to confirm a reservation. Taxi lines are dwindling, as Uber and Grab become the way to get a ride. Another example, from our recent trip to Vietnam comes from when we went to check-in for our return flight with Hong Kong Air. It turns out that we could not check in using their website. We had to do it via their app.

We cover the best travel apps for travelers in “Secrets to Using Technology Abroad.”

(1) Chinese Tourists Account for 21% of Global Travel Spending in 2018, HospitalityNet.org, 16 May 2018, https://www.hospitalitynet.org/performance/4088453.html.

#TravelSmartStrategies #WildSpiritTravel #Packing #Love2Travel #TravelTips
By Shyla Esko & Daniel Bare, January 28, 2019 ©www.WildSpiritTravel.com

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